A pair of Amur leopard cubs are now on exhibit at the Greenville Zoo.
The male and female cubs were born earlier this year but had to spend the first few months of their life in a private enclosure, according to Greenville Zoo administrator Jeff Bullock.
“The cubs really just needed some time indoors to bond with their mother,” said Bullock. “They also had to build up enough strength and coordination to safely navigate some of the obstacles in their outdoor habitat.”
The unnamed cubs, born on April 29, are the first offspring for Jade, the zoo’s seven-year-old female, and Nelkan, an 11-year-old male. Jade was transferred to the Greenville Zoo in 2011 from the Potawatomi Zoo in Indiana. Nelkan, however, was transferred from Germany last year to breed with Jade. The two were introduced in January.
Bullock said the cubs are an important success for the Greenville Zoo’s conservation efforts and the Species Survival Plan, a program developed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to help ensure the survival of selected species, most of which are threatened or endangered.
The Amur leopard is classified as a critically endangered species, with about 70 individuals remaining in the wild and just over 200 in zoos worldwide.
Bullock said at least one of the cubs would likely be transferred to another zoo for breeding once they mature. “It’s always tough to see them go,” he said. “But it’s also an incredible opportunity to educate the public on ways to help protect the species.”
The zoo plans to hold a naming contest for the cubs, with proceeds going to the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance, a coalition of international organizations working to support conservation of Amur leopards and tigers in the wild.
For more information, visit greenvillezoo.com.